The Mandinkas say “it is difficult to determine the truth of a one-legged narrative”.
From Sunday evening, news has been trending that an account at Bloom Bank, Gambia belonging to Dabanani Electrical Company owned by Alagie Conteh, has been frozen on the orders of Gambia government authorities. Monday Mr Conteh confirmed to The Standard newspaper that the account has indeed been blocked on the orders of the Inspector General of Police.
What was the reason for the blocking of the account? Until the time of going to press, Superintendent Lamin Njie, the spokesman of the Gambia Police Force, was as usual unavailable to shine light on a matter involving his force. The government has also not publicly said a word on the matter. This is incredible considering the surfeit of public offices and officials tasked with speaking on behalf of the government: the minister of Information, government spokesman, State House director of press and the director of information at the Department of Information Services!
Mr Conteh said his account was blocked by the bank on the orders of the police and the Financial Intelligence Unit for political reasons. All observers of politics in The Gambia know that Alagie Conteh is an uncompromising supporter and key financier of the main opposition United Democratic Party. Before the split between the UDP and Barrow, Mr Conteh did not even need a formal appointment to go to State House to meet the president. In the wake of the political schism, President Barrow and his breakaway group which morphed into the National People’s Party tried to lure him in joining them but he was categorical that he would NOT abandon the UDP and instead urged Barrow to reconcile with his former party. For this loyalty to the UDP, Mr Conteh was starved of government contracts and potentially lost hundreds of millions of dalasis.
Mr Conteh said he has not acted in any untoward manner and is not involved in money laundering as is reportedly suggested by the police and the Financial Intelligence Unit. He said the government of President Adama Barrow has been suppressing him merely because he supports a party that opposes the president’s party. And from whatever angle you look at it, that appears to be the case. It is unfair and it is unedifying of new Gambia. Citizens should not be tyrannised, suppressed or victimised in such a dastardly manner for political reasons.
Until such a time that the government sees fit to enlighten Gambians about the case, we believe Alagie Conteh’s side of the story and are calling on President Adama Barrow to immediately instruct his mandarins who ordered Bloom Bank to freeze Dabanani company’s accounts to unfreeze them. The optics are not good for either the president, his government and by extrapolation his party, as they go up and down the country trying to convince Gambians to give them a fresh mandate to run the affairs of the state for the next half-a-decade.
Editors note: We have received information that Mr Conteh’s account has now been unblocked.